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When it comes to most leafy greens, they usually go bad and rot before you can use them up. Kale doesn’t go quite the same slimy brown as spinach and lettuce. But it still goes bad if you don’t eat it quickly enough.
Kale is one of the healthiest and most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. Even after it achieved “superfood” status and became a fad, kale is still a very popular food.
So, if you have some kale that is sadly wilting in your refrigerator salad drawer, can you save it by freezing it? Luckily, the answer is yes! Freezing kale is super easy and will keep it fresh for a lot longer. You won’t even have to defrost it. You can easily cook it from frozen.
But, before you just go and throw that bag of kale into the freezer, check out our guide for the best way to freeze kale.
How to Freeze Kale
Unlike most other green vegetables, kale doesn’t need to be blanched before it is frozen. This will cut out a huge amount of time. Freezing kale is super easy.
Here are the simple steps for freezing kale
Step One: Wash the Kale
Even if the bag states that the kale has been prewashed, it’s still a good idea to give it a rinse.
Simply pour the kale into a colander and turn on the faucet for a few seconds. Move the leaves around a little so that they all get covered.
Step Two: Dry the Kale
This is a very important step. If you don’t dry the kale, the water droplets that are on the leaves will also freeze. This means that the leaves will potentially become very soggy, especially if you plan on defrosting them.
You can dry the kale either by patting it down with some paper towels or in a salad spinner.
Step Three: Prep the Kale
Once the kale is dry, cut off the stalks. These stalks are edible but they aren’t very nice.
They are very tough, even when boiled or steamed. So it’s best just to avoid eating them. The real taste and nutrients are in the leaves anyway.
Step Four: Place Kale on a Baking Tray
This might seem like a strange way to freeze food. But trust us, this will save you hassle in the long run. Take a baking tray and line it with parchment paper. This isn’t 100 % necessary but it will stop the kale from freezing to the tray.
Then, place the leaves on the baking tray. You can do multiple layers by placing parchment paper between the layers. Again, this isn’t 100% necessary but will stop the leaves from freezing to each other.
Step Five: Freeze!
Now it’s time to actually freeze the kale. Leave the kale in the freezer until the leaves are completely frozen. This shouldn’t take longer than 3 hours.
Step Six: Place in a Container
Once the kale has frozen, you can now place it in an airtight container. This will take up much less space and will be a lot more practical.
How to Defrost Kale
Defrosting vegetables can be tricky. When any food is frozen, it takes on water. Then, when the food is defrosted, this excess water causes the food to become soggy. This is especially true of leafy greens that do not react well to getting wet or frozen.
If you have ever accidentally let a bag of lettuce touch the back of your refrigerator, you will probably know this.
So, it’s not the best idea to defrost kale. The best thing to do is to just cook it from frozen. You can easily boil a handful of leaves. They will come out the same as if you had boiled them from fresh (if maybe a little softer). Boiling makes kale soften anyway, so the difference will be negligible.
If you really want to defrost the kale, the best thing to do is to leave it out on the counter. Place the leaves on a plate or dish lined with paper towels. These towels will soak up some of the excess liquid.
You might be tempted to defrost the kale in a microwave oven but we wouldn’t recommend this. Kale will soften if it is boiled or steamed. But it will crisp up in a dry heat. So, if it is cooked in the oven, it becomes very crispy. This is delicious but it won’t work quite in the microwave.
Even if you use the defrost setting, the microwave will potentially dry out or crisp up the kale. It will also possibly cook and dry out half of a leaf and leave the other half frozen or soggy. It’s really just not worth the risk.
Factors to Consider Before Freezing Kale
- One of the main factors to consider before freezing kale is that leafy greens don’t always do so well with water and ice. This means that it will potentially become soft and slimy if defrosted. So, before you freeze kale, know that you should also cook it from frozen.
- You will most likely be wondering if you can freeze kale because you’re worried it will go bad and be wasted. But it’s best to freeze the kale as soon as you can. This is because the nutrients of kale will decrease as it sits in your refrigerator. So, the sooner you freeze it, the healthier it will be. This is one of the reasons frozen vegetables are just as healthy as fresh vegetables. They are flash-frozen straight away so they are frozen at their peak of nutritiousness.
- Kale will last for around 6 months in the freezer. This is a lot longer than in the refrigerator. So if you’re wondering if freezing kale is worth it; it definitely is! But, this does mean that it can be easily forgotten about. So make sure you label the container with the date you froze it and use it all up!